Wintersemester 2020/2021, BA/MA Product Design
Personalised AR Room
How could personalised augmented reality affect human relationships?
From the findings of experiments conducted with virtual reality in Sprint 2, it became clear that our minds can be shaped by our virtual experiences, and not just our real ones. In VR it's easy to manipulate our vision, but by also giving our body the right feedback, we can make our brain believe its real. Through virtual interactions, we gain a feeling of ownership over this virtual body. But if this results in a psychological intervention with long term consequences for the human experience, what are the ethical considerations designers must take into account?
This design research was inspired by the practical brief set out by the interaction design project HyperHaptics, but also takes influence from the theory course ‘Technobodies’ offered in parallel at KHB this semester which addresses the question of how the human body will relate to technology where I researched the topic of sense augmentations.
An experiment was designed to test the premise that individualised augmented reality (AR) experiences can affect human relationships. A couple with different preferences enters the same room, but each partner gains entirely different impressions of the space due to an AR layer which has been customized to their individual preferences. A scale model was built of a room which could be ‘entered’ using a small camera, allowing the ‘room’ to be viewed with its personalised AR layer. Only the furniture which participants would interact with physically was included in the scale model, because in this scenario decoration - one element of the personalised AR layer - would be solely virtual. The participants ‘enter’ the ‘room’ and begin to describe and compare the different music, decor and lighting of the individual spaces. The question is: despite the different perceptions of the rooms, do the couple still see this as a shared experience?
Based on the findings of this experiment, it remains a shared experience as long each participant communicates their surroundings to the other. Long term, could it affect human relationships? If personalised AR becomes widely used, we may begin to take our individual perspectives for granted and as a result, stop sharing information about this experience with our partner. While each participant enjoyed having ‘their own room’ tailored to their taste, they expressed the importance of sharing an actual space to maintain their relationship. Sometimes just sitting together without a word and listening to the same music or seeing the same world is enough to create a bond.
This small study highlights the importance of involving psychologists and neuroscientists in more rigorous design research processes for the development of personalised AR, because designers need to seriously consider the consequences of applying any technology that can mould our minds and perceptions.Project categorySemester Project Project subjects BA/MA Product Design